Many years ago, the paternal grandmother of the writer of this edit, Mrs C.V. Subramania Iyer (who had founded in 1902 and edited the first English magazine in Malabar, the Malabar Quarterly Review) gently ensured that her eldest grandson became a lifelong vegetarian. Years later, when quizzed by her grandchild on why the cow was regarded by so many as their mother, the reply was that it was because it was the cow that gave mother’s milk to all of us throughout our lives, thus earning the right to that title. This seemed a reasonable inference, and seeing cows graze or get milked in the village where the writer was born, the gentle bovine won his heart, although as yet there remains scepticism about the range of curative properties ascribed to some of the substances produced by it. On encountering such activity or coming across suspicion of such activity (including transportation of cattle), the immediate response is to get an FIR filed and thereafter send the presumed offender to prison. Those that are not arrested may be subjected to what RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat has accurately described as an act abhorrent to Hindus (and indeed to any decent human being), lynching at the hands of vigilantes. Such actions are well within the bands of terrorism as defined in any lexicon, and the perpetrators of such inhuman deeds need to be proceeded against through use of the statutes governing terrorist offenses. The sooner this gets done, the quicker such incidents (which act as a boon to enemies of India out to paint the world’s most populous democracy in the worst of hues internationally) will stop happening. When logic and reason patiently inculcated through working among the people give way to the FIR and to the use of the police as social reformers, those indulging in such British colonial tactics forget that “reforms” enforced at the point of a police lathi last only so long as the police are around, and people spring back to their previous lifestyle preferences (in this case, on diet) with added emphasis.
North Block, in particular the Home and Finance ministries, are crucial. Both ministries need to reflect in their actions the needs and values of the 21st century. This places a premium on individual freedom and initiative rather than rely on governmental power to ensure that the machinery of the state functions smoothly and in a manner that the Prime Minister’s goal of a Rs 5 trillion economy gets realised by 2024. This may seem difficult if not impossible under the shadow of the Wuhan-origin pandemic that ensued as a consequence of of SARS2, but it is feasible, given a suitable policy framework in key departments of the government. In the case of the Finance Ministry, what is needed is an emphasis on growing the national income through empowering different sectors into boosting output and productivity. If the colonial-era focus on maximising revenue for the government in a single year (and which has continued long after the Union Jack was removed from our flagpoles) is not changed. What is called for is a less narrow outlook, so that the citizen is trusted and punishments are proportional and involve financial payments rather than imprisonment (which is usually accompanied with a loss of revenue that could have been secured by less repressive means). It must be admitted that Modi 2.0 has witnessed a significant improvement over Modi 1.0 in this regard. Much of the caution and adherence to past practices (including several inherited from the UPA period) has been cast aside by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, to her credit. The Home Ministry is even more important than the Finance Ministry, and the effort needs to be on ensuring that the interface between the centre and the states becomes smooth and efficient rather than contentious and self-defeating. Political rivals will blame each other and in so doing, forget that what the people expect is not a shouting match on television but effective delivery of services. Political differences are part of the democratic process. Union Home Minster Amit Shah needs to use his limitless energy and competence to ensure that the action plan of Prime Minister Modi gets carried out at speed with maximum cooperation and with minimal disruption. The Home Minister’s formidable skills need to be pointed in that direction, leaving others in his party to concentrate on the more combative aspects of the inter-party democratic process. Rs 5 trillion GDP by 2024 and the beating back of internal and external efforts by the Sino-Pakistan combine that aims at holding back progress in India and damaging stability and peace is the priority of the Modi government. Together with the Ministers for Home and Finance, top ministers, including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, have the skill and capacity to ensure that the goals set for 2024 by Prime Minister Modi are met by the time the Lok Sabha elections take place, helping Captain Modi begin his third series, and which will establish India as the world champion.